It could be argued that there’s nothing more that one should hope to achieve from the Running of the Bulls, than not dying. When putting oneself in front of 500 kilogram bulls, confused, scared, perhaps angry bulls, the best we can hope for is to emerge on the other side with our bodies – and indeed our lives – intact.
With something as important as your very life at stake, you don’t want to leave your San Fermin fortunes up to fate. No need to chance this very important five minutes, which is as long as most bull runs last, may as well make some decisions beforehand, and during, that severely up your odds at keeping your feet firmly planted somewhere on this mortal coil.
It is in the interest of your survival post the first week or so of July that we will share with you this guide to surviving the bull run. To be completely fair, we want you alive, not least because we like you a lot, but even more so because if you are killed by a bull while staying with us it makes for horrible press, and also a living traveller is better return business.
- Don’t run with bulls
This is by far and away the most surefire method to survive the bull run. Sleep in that morning, or arrive just to spectate. Stand the run out, stay away from the bulls. 100% of the bulls who can’t touch you, can’t kill you. You can also be proud that you didn’t contribute to the cruelty of the bull run.
- Focus on dodging the bulls
Many runners will put their heads down and sprint for their life while the bulls breathe down their neck. This is a terrible idea. With your back turned to the bulls you can never truly perceive when they’re angling to impale you, and the fact of the matter is that you will never outrun the bulls from start to finish – at some point they will overtake you. What is better is to go for a slight jog while the bulls are approaching, checking over your shoulder for their arrival, and when they’re upon you turning to face them and jumping out of their path. What is fun then is to run alongside and then behind the bulls, but watch out if they crash.
- If the bulls fall down, get the fuck out of there
Normally the bulls will follow the steers down the centre of the bull run. Occasionally the bulls won’t make it around a corner, crash out and lose the pack. The bulls then can turn around, run back up the course in the opposite direction, or worse still select someone from amongst the runners in front of them and relentlessly gore them until their attention is taken by someone pulling on their tail. You do not want to be one of the bull’s options for this relentless goring.
- Avoid the bull run’s danger spots
Dead man’s corner is so called because it’s not where you want to be if staying alive is high on your priorities list. Make sure you’re not in front of the bulls at that point, or even behind because they sometimes fall down there and, see point three. Another dangerous spot is the bottleneck that goes from the street into the bullfighting arena, where the run ends. Avoid there too, as when the bulls come through there’s no space for them to navigate that space without putting some unlucky souls on the end of their horns.
- Worry about humans as much as bulls
Humans are less physically threatening than bulls, obviously, but there are so many more humans than bulls in this event, and through a combination of fear, hangovers and perhaps genetics/upbringing they’re considerably stupider than the animals they think are after them. When you fall down and stumble in the bull run terrified tourists will trample you; attempting to stand up will result in a knee, or a foot, to the back of the head. Your fellow man will push you aside to save your skin and you’ll end up in the path of a bull because Jeff from Oklahoma thought that his shitty life was more valuable than yours.
- Don’t be a bull
If you want to be sure of dying just be a bull. Not only are they the only participants of this event who are there against their will, they are also assured to die as a result of it. The bull fights, that come every afternoon after the bull runs, offer the bulls a 100% chance of passing away – even if they defeat the matador (who fights with a team of assassins on their side, aided by walls to hide behind and horses to sit upon), the bull will still be killed. The best way to avoid dying in Pamplona is to not be a bull, it’s as simple as that.
Sure, it’s culture, but it’s a barbaric culture and probably past its used-by date. But don’t take our word for it, come and see for yourself – and then stay for San Fermin’s amazing street parties, and our Stoked in the Park festival.
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